NFL Says Legally It Doesn't Have to Address Cheerleaders' Shitty Wages

Over the course of the last year, NFL cheerleaders have attempted to raise their pay to at least minimum wage through various lawsuits. In June, two Oakland Raiderettes sued the league for fair pay. The NFL's official response? Not our problem.

The league's response to the suit, which was made public today, claims that state labor code doesn't apply to the NFL. The league says that "because the California Supreme Court found that players cannot bring antitrust claims against their teams, the NFL, therefore, is immune from state labor laws." In other words, Raiderettes need to deal with the Raiders specifically to get raises.

This may or may not hold up in court. As the Raiderettes' lawyer Drexel Bradshaw explains,

There is no logical limit to [the NFL's] argument. If what they say is true, then no employee of any club team is afforded protections. That means anyone who is not a player—coaches, custodian, secretaries, groundskeepers, no one would be treated as a legitimate employee.

Bradshaw's partner Clinton Woods told The Recorder, "I think that they believe ... that they are kind of above the law, and it's shocking from my perspective."

The Raiderettes argue that cheerleader pay is the NFL's problem, because the NFL has kept a system in place to "depress cheerleaders' wages." In the suit, the two Raiderettes claim the league "forbid its female athletes from discussing their compensation with one another and prevented them from being hired by other NFL clubs." That sounds like a league problem, not a Raiders-specific problem.

In a separate suit filed last January, different Raiderettes did ask the Raiders directly for fair pay. Without settling the suit, the Raiders quietly brought cheerleader pay up from $5/hour to minimum wage.

Given the NFL's unwillingness to address cheerleader pay in general, it doesn't look like all NFL cheerleaders will be making the jump to minimum wage anytime soon.

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